A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.
Faded - Recovered - Scanned - Delight
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Many years ago when film was plentiful and Polaroid made
film for my médium format RB-67 I used to peel the photographs from my Polaroid
back and throw them away.
Photographers have a way of not following rules so soon a
few had found out that the peels (they were negative-like) of Polaroid Colour
Instant Film did not fade and that they could be scanned. It seems that Polaroid
peels (as I call them) were in wait of a technology (scanners) that made them
relevant and in many ways quite beautiful.
Polaroid Instant Film (not the Instamatic kind) is dead. For
a few years we photographers switched to unusually good Fuji Film FP-300B B+W and
FP-100C Colour. The former now discontinued produced negatives that partially solarized. The scanning results were most interesting. The latter colour film
has been recently discontinued but there are rumours that Fuji is going to
manufacture it in batches.
The initial problem with the Fuji Instant Colour peels is
that the image fades in short minutes. I have been able to take the peel to a
waiting scanner and produce a sort of Polaroid transfer (as they used to be
called). The peel itself when carefully bleached makes a strange sort-of-negative.
My friend baroque bassist Curtis Daily and I compared notes on the process and
have found a foolproof method for bleaching them without flaws.
I have a box with at least 100 of these that now that
Daily and I have our method, I will be treating in the near future.
This one of
Lauren is a tad underexposed but with the help of m 13-year-old Photoshop and
CorelXII’s “Clarify” tool I have been
able to get a lovely image of her that makes me smile when I look at it.
The cello has affected me through the years sonically and
photographically. I have enjoyed its sound. My mother (I do not know if she was
correct) told me that the cello most resembled a human’s voice. I would have
countered that a badly played oboe was a whining baby to perfection.
I have photographed many cellists and strangely most
women with the exception of Ariel Barnes, the Venetian Claudio Ronco (who
introduced me to the music of David Popper who in many of his compositions for
cello sounds like Bach on amphetamines) and (yes!) Mstislav Rostropovich.
Two female cellists of note, both young, beautiful and
talented have been Juliana Soltis and Marina Hasselberg. The latter has not
remained in one proven genre and has branched out from her classic modern cello
and baroque cello (no endpin and gut strings) to plugging it in to alternating
In need of an excuse to place here this double whammy of
a photograph I discovered and Argentine cellistwho has composed an interesting piece in homage to Julio Cortázar’s
hyperlink (it can be read in a linear form or in several other suggested
jumbling of chapters) novel Hopscotch (Rayuela)..
Usually I blog by posting here in my Blogger blog. Sometimes I re-post it into Medium.com. The folks at Medium have a neat tool by which you can transfer the Blogger blog and drop it into their platform. In this case I have gone backwards. You might note that the formatting is not quite right.
my age of 74 (it seems I begin many of my essays in this way) and as an
obsolete, redundant and retired magazine photographer I keep thinking
that my interest in the photography of the female undraped woman should
be curtailed. I should settle down to read, listen to music, take care
of my wife and cat and plan trips to places we have not seen.
then my friend Curtis Daily from Portland, who plays the baroque stand
up bass comes for a visit and I suggest we find a model and take
photographs together and perhaps exchange some knowledge on the matter.
photographed this past Wednesday, February 22, 2017 Miss D who was an
enthusiastic subject. I still have a few boxes of Fuji FP-100C Instant
Colour film that fits my Mamiya Rb-67 Pro-SD. This film is sadly
discontinued although Daily has told me that Fuji plans to make it
available again by manufacturing batches of it.
wonders of this film is that it produces a very nice print but also a
peel negative. This negative can then be used in various ways:
I scan the peel as soon as I dislodge it from its print because the
image fades quickly. You can see the result here before I reverse it in
In a method that Daily and I have now perfected by sharing knowledge I
strip the black backing of the negative with bleach and then with
careful washing a soaking I have an unconventional negative-like, but
not quite negative.
3. I then scan the “negative in three ways:
A. I tell my scanner it’s colour negative.
B. I tell my scanner is it a positive.
C I tell my scanner it is a b+w negative.
Miss D — scanned negative peel as a b+w
What you see here are those three different versions plus a scan of the print.
excitement that this picture has generated for me perhaps urges me to
keep taking photographs while I can still see and have the energy to
press the shutter.
will note that Miss D has a lovely body. I photographed her by our
Chickering baby grand piano. I believe I might has Miss D pose for me
Miss D - scanned negative peel as a colour negative (the scanner adds the orange mask)
My Argentine first cousin and godmother, Inesita O’Reilly Kuker,
92 fell and broke her hip a few weeks ago. Her family is waiting for her heart
to give out or for her to stop breathing. I am extremely sad as our trip (my
Rosemary and my 14 year-old granddaughter Lauren) to Buenos Aires in March will
not have Inesita meeting Lauren.
I have been thinking of the losses of my older friends in
that last few years. What I miss most about them is that they were from a
generation of outgoing and warm people. I miss human warmth in Vancouver of
cold rainy winters andpeople that I
would once compared to the very cold city tap water.
I look forward to my trip to Austin, Texas and to meeting up
with the few friends of my generation who are left.
I plant to attend Brother Rommard Barthel’s memorial service
in spite of the fact he was never my teacher. We conversed long hours in my
multiple stays at St. Joseph Hall, invited by that other beacon of warmth,
Brother Edwin Reggio, CSC.
I single out Mike O’Connell (a definite undersclassman from
my perspective of being from the HS Class of 1961) as a person who has shown me
the warmth I so miss now. He will up the ante on heat this Thursday night at Ruby's
And there is another gentleman who will be in attendance, Lee Lytton III who four
years ago hosted us at his Sarita hometown and gave my wife and two
granddaughters a taste of real Texas hospitality.
This reunion, which may be my last ( Lytton says he plans
to attend the 6th) will make me forget the rain and I will be
pleasantly haunted by ghosts in the Old Main whom I know are all smiling
It wasn’t until I was 15 that I first used a phone. In my
boyhood Argentina (a third world country even then) by 195,1 when I was 9, my
mother bought a refrigerator from a departing American. I remember that the
fridge had the compressor on the top. It was with that fridge that I made my
first Lime Jell-O. Before that the “hielero”
would come once a week and he would place a large block of ice in our icebox.
In 1953 I was invited to the house of the daughter
(her name was Susan Stone) of the CEO for General Motors in Argentina. That's where I
saw my first TV. She sent her father’s Cadillac to pick me up at our humble
It was not until the early 70s that globalization began to
affect the holidays of other countries. I remember some kids in the street in
Mexico City wanting me to give them money,”Danos
But it was in 1957 when I was in the 8th grade of
a small one room school house in Nueva Rosita when I discovered San Valentín.
The school was were the children of the engineers of the American Smelting and
Refining Company learned an American curriculum. My mother was the teacher.
I hoped against all hope that the lovely Anna María Ramos
who was in the 7th grade would send me a valentine card. She did but
I was too shy to acknowledge it!
Valentine’s was special even in my high school at St. Ed’s
in Austin. It was a boy’s school but I never received a card from the cute and
very short Judy Reyes who was a cheerleader. From my vantage point of the
school band, where I played the alto saxophone I would sigh when she would jump
at football games and reveal her underwear.
Now Valentine’s day has little meaning for me. This morning
I brought breakfast in bed for my Rosemary but since we do this every day it
was not in any way special.
Thinking on how I would illustrate this I immediately knew I
would find the picture of Salem holding her heart-shaped pillow.
I have a memory of my grandmother complaining about a
friend she had when we were in Argentina. It seems her friend was a miser and
pushy, too. She was called Valentina Perez.
In my beginning darkroom in Arboledas, Estado de México
around 1971 my darkroom was the bathroom in my shop. As you might imagine my
shop where I had a bench saw and I made furniture which I then spray painted with
automobile lacquer did not provide a dust-free environment with darkroom.
When we moved to Vancouver, in our first house in Burnaby I
had a splendid and very large and pristine darkroom with its own separate
In our Kerrisdale, on Athlone Street house my darkroom was a
good one but it had poor ventilation. The bathroom was at the end of a short aisle.
I am harping about the bathrooms because they were where I
hung my wet negatives to dry.
Now in my fourth (and obviously) last little home I have no
darkroom. I have my colour negative film processed by The Lab. I process my b+w
film in the bathroom in the upper guest room.
A day ago I processed two rolls of 120 Kodak T-Max 100
Film there. They were the pictures of Deuphine.
In that bathroom I have a rack
where I dry my negatives. On the rack I found this Fuji FP-3000B Instant B+W negative
peel of Olena, the woman with the blue hair. At one time when this film was
readily available we idiots (or at least this idiot) used to throw them away.
But you can do wonders with these peels if they are allowed to dry. Sometimes
dust and grit collects on them. I had re-washed the peel (very carefully) and
forgotten about it.
Today Sunday, February 12, 2017 marks the passing of exactly
4000 blogs since I started in January 2006. When I wrote those early blogs I
had no idea what a blog was or why I was doing it. I have written a few blogs
on why I blog and now today looking back, what comes to mind is one of the most
influential books I have ever read. It was Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s The Phenomenon ofMan. I bought it in the late 60s in Buenos Aires.
In hindsight some folks believe Chardin predicted the world
wide web with his concept of a Noosphere which would envelop the world in pure
thought. Chardin was an avid believer of evolution. But within his idea he
championed the idea that organisms evolved from simplicity to complexity. While
Chardin, a Jesuit, was prohibited from publishing his books while alive, in the
photographs of him taken by Philippe Halsman I gaze on the face of an extremely
intelligent man who is looking at a rosy future. I am not sure of that.
Against the background
of the modern evolutionary world view, Teilhard de Chardin depicted the cosmos
as a process of ascent, a series of unions. From very simple beginnings the
path leads to ever greater and more complex unities, in which multiplicity is not
abolished but merged into a growing synthesis, leading to the “Noosphere”, in
which spirit and its understanding embrace the whole and are blended into a
kind of living organism.
Of late as I am plagued by en ever more complex world I do
not see that Chardin rosy future.
My old computer (a PC) has a 14 year-old Photoshop that
works beautifully for my needs. I calibrate my cathode ray tube monitor for
colour by matching it to the gray background of my web page and blog.
Today when I finally was able to figure out how to download
from my PC to my brand new Microsoft Surface laptop/tablet the colour was
accurate and whites were whites and grays were grays.
But I cannot transfer my old Photoshop. I have to (and I
will not) buy a subscription and then download it. I cannot transfer my
perfectly serviceable Word for the same reason. I had to pay $50 for a year’s
Tell me is things are better. Tell me if this is an
While I do not hark back to land lines (I have one) with
dialing black phones, it seems that the improvements are just a case of making
stuff more complex just to make it more complex.
I was not able to download the new Microsoft Office product
to my Surface today. I was with a computer expert (Powersonic on Bridgeport
Road). I was told xx, whatever. So I called the tech number for help:
1. The number was answered immediately. Odd?
2. I mentioned what a pleasure it was not to have to wait.
Silence on the other side.
3. I explained the problem. I was told that he was going to
talk to a supervisor.
4. He came back to tell me that he had to get into my
5. I said, “Oh, you want to hack into my computer!”
6. The man said, “I am pissed.”
7. I asked him to repeat that. He did.
8. I hung up.
I went to the folks at Best-Buy who told me the Microsoft
website that I had gone to was one they had never seen before.
Tell me that things are better just because they are more
By the way my Microsoft Surface does not come with an
operating manual. They say it is far more convenient to go for the information